Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Ministry of Fear (Conclusion)


I.       I.    

     To walk from Paddington to Battersea gives time for thought.  He knew what he had to do long before he began to climb the stairs.  A phrase of Johns came back to mind about a Ministry of Fear.  He felt now that he had joined its permanent staff.  But it wasn’t the small bureau to which Johns had referred, with limited aims like winning a war or changing a constitution.  It was a ministry as large as life to which all who loved belonged.  If one loved one feared.  


    The anxiety left her face:  all that remained was that tense air he had observed before – the air of someone perpetually on guard to shield him.  He sat down on the bed and put his hand on her shoulder.  "My dear,” he said, “my dear.  How much I love you.”   He was pledging both of them to a lifetime of lies, but only he knew that.  

     “Me too,” she said.  “Me too.”

     They sat for a long while without moving and without speaking:  they were on the edge of their ordeal like two explorers who see at last from the summit of the range the enormous dangerous plain.  They had to tread carefully for a lifetime, never speak without thinking twice:  they must watch each other like enemies because they loved each other so much.  They would never know what it was not to be afraid of being found out.  It occurred to him that perhaps after all one could atone even to the dead if one suffered for living enough.

     He tried tentatively a phrase.  “My dear, my dear, I am so happy,” and heard with infinite tenderness her prompt and guarded reply, “Me too.”  It seemed to him that after all one could exaggerate the value of happiness .  .  .

From:  Graham Greene, The Ministry Of Fear, London, William Heinemann, 1943.

Simeon Salomon Images:

Top:  Hypnos, The God Of Sleep

Bottom:  Death Awakening Sleep


  1. Haunting passage and images. They speak to me today.

  2. It's a remarkable novel that I tend to focus on because (this may be an odd thing to say), the protagonist reminds me quite a bit of myself. I highly recommend it. Like all of Greene's "entertainments," the weird and artful name he chose for some of his best, most profoundly moving works, it's gripping to read. Fritz Lang filmed The Ministry of Fear as his first Hollywood picture starring Ray Milland in the lead. It's a good film and worth seeing, but is inferior to the book in all respects. Simeon Solomon, the artist whose works appear here, was a Pre-Raphaelite artist you don't hear about that often, who was very well-known and highly regarded (by, among others, Oscar Wilde who owned examples of his work) in his time. As his name indicates, he was a Jewish artist from London who led Bohemian existence, which ultimately ended in extremely unfortunate circumstances. As they say, ars longa, vita brevis. Curtis

  3. I haven't been able to concentrate well lately, but I'll definitely make a note of this novel. Nell

  4. Gotta read this; never have. How's the movie?

    Are you a Simeon Solomon fan? Me too. That's so funny. The drawings, not the paintings. Hypnos is a particularly fine one, as good as they get.

    I will post a drawing I have on facebook. It seems to be a literary reference, but I don't know what it is. Keats's Isabella?

    Simeon Solomon is Mr. Deacon's favorite artist in A Dance to the Music of Time.

  5. It's been so long since I read A Dance To The Music Of Time that I'd forgotten. I also prefer the drawings, but there's something unique and unsettling about the paintings also. Would love to see your S.S. I love the novel The Ministry Of Fear for all sorts of reasons, most of them personal and reflecting things I'd like to and think I should "get over." That being said, it seems very real and true to life to me, although the some of the situations are extravagant. I posted a section of it last week also (with another S.S. image) and have done a couple of other posts on it using images from the movie. The film, which I recall being Fritz Lang's first US feature, is quite a bit different than the book. It's worth seeing but, while it's quite diverting (and I always enjoy Ray Milland), it's ok while the book is profound. There are a number of good supporting performances in it also and great shots of telephones and scissors. Curtis